Inspiration From The Distant Past

Inspiration From The Distant Past
Found note in an old book... warms the cockles of my bookish heart...

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Current favourites

Hello all! It's me, Adele, and I am terribly sorry for the lack of posts I have done. I have been swamped with... well... life, I guess! This post is about my two current favourite books that I have recently read or  am in the process of reading! The first one is Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows! I am a big Harry Potter fan and I think this one is my favourite out of all seven. This book is for anyone, child or adult! Here is a quick summary on the book.

While the magic world is being taken over by Lord Voldemort, Harry Potter and his friends have been set a deathly task by Dumbledore: To collect Voldemort's seven horcruxes. (Little pieces of one's soul hidden in items). They leave Hogwarts and set off in a race around the country. Along the way they find out shocking secrets, surprising information and horrific tales...

Now, the next book, Ruby Redfort Take Your Last Breath, is by my favourite author Lauren Child. I was so excited when this came out sand ended up checking the bookstore every couple of days to see whether they had it in or not! I recommend this one for ages around 8-13.

Ruby Redfort, Spectrum agent, is not easily scared. In fact, there is only one thing she is scared of... Small spaces. For her next mission she has to dive into the ocean, but she won't come face to face with her biggest fear, right? 

And there you have it! Hope you enjoyed! 

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Lesa's Book Banter: The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

Synopsis from Amazon: Arthur Kipps is an up-and-coming London solicitor who is sent to Crythin Gifford--a faraway town in the windswept salt marshes beyond Nine Lives Causeway--to attend the funeral and settle the affairs of a client, Mrs. Alice Drablow of Eel Marsh House. Mrs. Drablow's house stands at the end of the causeway, wreathed in fog and mystery, but Kipps is unaware of the tragic secrets that lie hidden behind its sheltered windows. The routine business trip he anticipated quickly takes a horrifying turn when he finds himself haunted by a series of mysterious sounds and images...
ooOOOoooOO-- what a good old fashioned ghost story! The setting is post-Victorian but the style is reminiscent of old Victorian ghost stories by Dickens, Wilkie Collins, ect. So it is not 'in your face' scary like most contemporary horror novels/movies but rather has an eerie slow atmospheric build of suspense and uneasiness. And it has the obligatory tragically horrifying 'drive the hero mad' clencher of an ending. 

If you have an appreciation for old fashioned ghost stories, give this novella a try.

Oh yes, I absolutely loved the character of Spider, the brave little terrier. So clever of the author to add Spider to the story because there is nothing more unnerving than a dog growling and bristling at something that isn't there or at least at something we humans can't see. 

 I abandoned a trek to behind the house last night after dark (even with a flashlight) to turn off the water because my dogs wouldn't go with me. And they always go with me. Then one dog barked.  I thought of little Spider and scurried back into the house and locked the door.  Bigfoot might have been back there! (I live in the woods and there have been Bigfoot sightings around here.. and mountain lions and bears, oh my!)

One more thing, this book was recently made into a movie starring Daniel Radcliffe. Not sure if I plan to see it or not since the movie is probably way scarier than the book. I may not want to actually see the specter or hear the eerie sounds since I'm easily creeped out. 

Do you like ghost stories?  Will you watch the movie or read the book? If you already have, what did you think?

My Goodreads rating: four stars out of five which means I really liked it and had fun reading it. 

Source: Library  

Monday, April 9, 2012

Books I have been forced to read

Hello there, bookworms!
I have not been present here in what seems like a lifetime, so let me introduce myself. I am Isabella, an almost fifteen-year-old-girl who loves to read. My specialities include girly-fluff novels (books with no substance), timeless classics I struggle to get through (I'm looking at you, Jane Austen) and of course, those wonderful books I am forced to read at school.

I usually have to write an in-class essay after I've read the book, making reading these books a painfully stressful process. Never have I actually read one of these books for a novel study and liked them. Ever. Here are a few of the wonderful gems I have gotten to read over my advanced English years. 

Outfall by Brian Ridden

I can't really remember much of this book. It was all a frantically-trying-to-get-an-A+ blur. Some details I remember, though, like that it was about a teenage surfer boy, he was protesting against something environmentally destructive and he had nightmares about sharks a lot. And the book had sexual references that we had to read aloud in class. Tee hee! 

A Bridge to Wiseman's Cove by James Moloney

We had to analyse this book so much that by the end I never wanted to hear it mentioned ever again. And I know that even if we didn't have to analyse so heavily, I still wouldn't have liked it. It's just so sad. The main character, Carl, is someone you just can't help but feel sorry for. He has a dysfunctional family, no social skills, and loves a girl who doesn't feel the same. I like to feel happy when I read, and this book just didn't do it for me. Of course it has a happy ending, but it just takes so long to get there. Read this if you're not a massive softie like me!

To Kill a Mocking-bird by Harper Lee

Ah yes, the classic tale of racism and justice. I think. I'm just taking a jab in the dark here because I have not actually gotten past the first chapter. I'll admit, it seems a little more interesting than the others, but I just can't bring myself to read it during the holidays. Boo Radley seems really scary. 

Who knows, maybe I'll read this one and actually enjoy it. Probably not. I'll keep you all posted. 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The French Foreign Legion

Tonight's conversation started with Hubby mentioning that he had met Bob Irwin, the late Crocodile Hunter's father. That led, naturally to his son, and other adventurous men.

We then wandered on to discuss one of our favourite TV shows, Bear Grylls

The family reminisced about an episode where Bear joins in a French Foreign Legion boot camp, and the question came up, 'What is the French Foreign Legion?'

I looked in Wikipedia and learned that is was founded in 1831, is still an important part of the French military, and has fought in almost all French wars.  I was interested to read that a large number of refugees find sanctuary in the ranks.  A few of years of honourable service in the FFL offers citizenship, even though there are no FFL forces based in France except during war.

So we talked of rogues and new identities and soldiers and spies.  

We sat around our table and agreed we'd rather be here than wrestling crocs, eating spiders or serving France in a war zone.  My spaghetti and meatballs weren't wonderful, but they were definitely better than some other options...

Friday, March 23, 2012

Utterly fantastic fan mail part 2!

Okay, okay. As you may have noticed, Lauren Child sent my friend and I a letter back. I was utterly surprised because not only did it come so utterly fast, but we thought it would never come back. But... WE WERE WRONG! 
She sent us the letter and 2 fabulous post cards! (It would have been horrid if she only sent 1!). We photo copied the letter so now there is one for me and one for her. The picture on the post card is titled;  My dream bed. It says; 'Would your dream bed be your own bed?'
Utterly amazing!

Monday, March 19, 2012

E-readers Are Not Evil! (vlog)

Hello, book buds! Did you notice my absence around blogland, Facebook and Twitter the last few weeks?  No? *note to self: Lesa is not the center of the universe*  Well, I have been enjoying a much needed social media sabbatical. 

And I have been utterly and completely obsessed preoccupied with my KindleFire.

Yes, I have joined the darkside ranks of the e-reader cheerleaders. (If you missed it, groove here to my KindleFire dance party) 

In fact, I am so thrilled with the KindleFire (and e-reading in general) that I decided to focus my first ever solo vlog on it. If you fear brainwashing don't have time to watch, scroll down to read my favorable and convincing first impressions.  

Apologies, the camera got too hot and stopped, hence part two.

What I'm liking about the Kindlefire:

It is very user friendly despite a very touchy touch screen. 

The background color, font, text size and brightness of a book page can be adjusted to suit personal preferences. It makes reading a book very easy on the eyes. And it does not look or feel like reading on a computer. 

The backlit screen allows reading in the dark! My favorite feature!! I can read at night while riding in the car! When I can pry it away from my child...  

By the way, if you have children consider getting them their own Kindlefire to fight over. My little boy loves reading books and playing free games on it.  He actually prefers it over his DSi XL. Grrr...

I like the novelty of streaming videos, music and accessing the web but the Kindlefire may be redundant if you already do that with other portable devices. If that is the case, try an e-reader that is for books only. 

What I'm loving about e-reading:

Free books! And not just classics. There seems to be an unlimited supply of 'new' fiction/non-fiction freebies available.  

Convenience! An entire portable library is at hand anytime anywhere. 

So any new converts among the e-reader naysayers and fence sitters? 

Testify, Brother and Sister Bookworms! 

E-readers are not evil!

E-readers are good!

Embrace e-readers!

Really, you will be delighted by how much an e-reader enhances your reading life. 

I kid you not. I still can't get over the wonder of this cool fun new way to read. 

And I am still reading physical books too... still buying 'real' bargain books... still borrowing books from the library.  

Using an e-reader hasn't changed anything regarding my love or use of physical books. It has only enhanced and added a new dimension to my reading life. 

So don't be as silly and stubborn as me, try an e-reader soon!


For those who viewed my vlogs, what did you think?

Have I not made a perfect drinking game vlog for book club night?!  Every time, Lesa flaps the Kindle cover take a swig! Every time,  she says 'fun', take two swigs!!

Hahahaha! Watching oneself on video is a real eye opener!  

I want to get better at this vlogging business so please share your tips and advice.  I'm very competitive with myself so I've already noted many ways to improve, such as:

1. Keep it short and to the point!  My challenge will be to keep future vlogs between 2 and 4 minutes long.  Feel free to place bets among yourselves. hahaha

2. Invest in an external microphone to eliminate camera noise and increase sound quality. 

3. Stop saying 'uh'. 

4. Stop playing with the props.

5. Sit still. Well, that one may be an impossible goal so at least sit in a non-squeaky chair. Which I did for part two. Did you notice?

6. Vlog when the lighting is best. The lighting had changed during part two and wasn't as nice.

Anything else? Be honest. Don't worry about hurting my feelings. I have no illusions and would prefer to avoid future embarrassment. ;)

Thank you so much for your help.

And many many thank yous for watching (and reading).

Until next time, hugs and happy reading! 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Biblio-blunder: Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood

Biblio-blunder is a sporadic (thankfully) feature in which we share our bookish gaffes with the world. Click on the label biblio-blunder to read more.

Last week Adele wrote about her fan letter to her favorite author. It reminded me when I wrote to an author. But it wasn't a fan letter. It was a desperate plea for help. HELP, I say!

There was a time when I could take a book, read it, and nary a mishap. Then I began to get old and feeble- minded. I got the dropsies in the bubble bathies. And the coffee spillages on the page the killer was revealed.

"As God as my witness...As God as my witness, I will never borrow a friend's precious book. Only from the library because I can always just pay the fine. No harm, no foul."

This entire speech was said with such conviction, such feeling, that all those listening shed a tear. Yes. One single tear. And a rose was involved somehow. Maybe I bit a potato. And I may have been alone. I don't remember. The point is, I could not trust myself with books.

I broke this cardinal rule one fateful day. I broke it and lived to tell the tale.

One of my friends knew I was going on a long car trip. She knew I wanted to read The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. She knew I was clumsy and had children, but that temptress offered the book anyway! I tell you, I couldn't say no. What a fool I was! What a fool.

My old nemesis

What happened, you ask? Oh. I'll tell you what happened. Chocolate milk, the deadliest of all milks happened.

 Chocolate milk spilled out of the bottle in the cupholder into my bag o' stuff-to-do-on-a-twelve-hour-car-trip. And worse yet, I DID NOT KNOW, until it glued the middle pages together. A brown gloppy stinky mess. No chance to clean it up.

But the worst, ABSOLUTE WORST, was that this was a hard-bound, PERSONALLY AUTOGRAPHED, FIRST EDITION beautiful book ruined by yours truly. Oh. Yes. I felt so bad. It ruined my trip.

As soon as I got back to the US, I searched high and low for a replacement. I avoided my friend. I searched for a first edition that was autographed for about a week. Finally, I hunted down the address for Rebecca Wells. Then I wrote a particularly pathetic letter, explaining what happened and begging her for an autographed copy. Every possible mean of contacting were included. I didn't hear from her.

I finally gave up. After nearly two months I tracked down an autographed, first edition. I bought it and placed it in the bag with the ruined book. I wrote another pathetic letter apologizing and explaining what happened. I gave it to her husband and, like a coward, left the scene.

My friend called me later that week and told me it was fine. That she hated that I was so stressed about it, I should've told her, no need for another one, etc. She's even offered to let me borrow more books. I always say NO!

But that, folks, is not the end. About two months after this, I get a phone call. Guess who it was? Ms. Wells' assistant! Yes! She called me! They got my letter and wanted to help me. She was so very very nice. I thanked her profusely and told her I had purchased one already. She kind of laughed, apologized for taking so long to get back to me, that they understood what happened and if there was anything else that they could help with to let them know.

So, that, my folks, is my "writing an author" story. Pathetic? Yes. Will I ever borrow someone's book? Unless I can run to Barnes and Noble to replace it, then NO! I learned my lesson. Again.

Please feel free to share your bookish horror stories so I don't feel quite so bad.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Utterly Fantastic Fan Mail!

Yes! I did it! I was reading Clarice Bean Utterly Me, when I had this utterly amazing idea: To write to Lauren Child! (My absolute favourite writer in the history of utterly amazing writers!) 

So I asked my bestest friend in the whole widest world what she thought, and then it hit me! (Yet another utterly amazing idea!) We could both write to her, she LOVES Lauren Child too, so it works out.

So, we wrote the letter, and we included a drawing that we did. I was quite proud.

 And we even decorated both sides of the envelope!

Here is one side:

And here is the other side:

Writing fan mail is so much fun!

Have you ever sent fan mail to a favourite author? 

  Sorry for the photo quality!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Bargain Book Bonanza (31): Drew in Blue by J. M. Kelley

Welcome to Bargain Book Bonanza!

DeLynne is hosting this week!

Drew in Blue by J.M. Kelly was free when I 'bought' it on Kindle, but now I see it's $3.99 or free for Prime members. 

Even if you have to pay the full $3.99 I think you will consider it money well-spent.

This is a romance story, but it's also about raising babies and making art and becoming a parent.  Drew finds himself unexpectedly responsible for his baby Nick.  You can imagine the usual Three Men and a Baby gags about diapers and spit-up, and yes, they are here.

But this is also a well-written story that made me smile and even tear up.  Don't expect a sob story because it doesn't take much to make me moist-eyed, it's a genetic thing. 

I loved riding along with Drew as he grew up, forgave his mother for dying when he was young, earned a living, fell in love with his son, and found the woman of his dreams.


As an added bonus, Drew is an artist, and we get to see glimpses of an artist's life.  You know, painter's block, working at home, choosing a media, meeting buyers, hanging the canvases, etc.  Not knowing any full-time artists I am not sure about the accuracy of these details, but they were interesting and made me wish I could paint.

You should know that Drew in Blue gets a little, erm, blue at times.  So if you're a stickler for keeping your reading G rated you need to move along.  Nothing to see here.  It's certainly not erotica (which Lesa says has 'all the particulars') but there are some intimacies and a bit of swearing.

The plot is predictable.  I mean Blind Freddy can see where it's going.  But it was sweet and funny: certainly more than just a Harlequin, Mills and Boon-type story.

I think you will enjoy getting to know Drew.

Not THIS Drew in Blue.

THIS Drew in Blue.

Smiling Sally

And to see even more blues, please hop over to Blue Monday hosted by Smiling Sally.


BBB is a book haul linky party for bargain loving bookworms!

Want to join the party? Just visit the Bargain Book Bonanza page for the particulars.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

What Makes a Princess a Princess?

I happened to stumble on the most adorable story. I was at our local library and my little girl was running around (quietly!) yanking any book that was predominantly pink and/or had a princess on the cover. Most of them were the "perfect" blonde princess books. I replaced those. One was different though: Princess Grace by Mary Hoffman.

Isn't that the sweetest cover? So, why is this such a great story?  Let me 'splain. No. There is too much. Let me sum up:

There will be two princesses chosen to be in the parade this year. Grace hopes to be one of them - with a pink and floaty dress. But when she asks what a princess does exactly, it actually sounds boring. That is, until her teacher shows her books of real life princess and story princesses from other lands - princesses that wouldn't be wearing pink and floaty dresses

As she learns more, she decides what kind of princess she would really like to be and it doesn't involve pink either! "Will you still like it?" her mother asks. "There's more than one way of being pretty," answers Grace.

Another reason I appreciated this book is that her mother and grandmother remind her that she may not be chosen. THANK YOU! My kids are geniuses, could be models, and are hi-la-ri-ous (as are yours, I am sure). And they don't always get chosen. Positive reinforcement is important, but teaching your kids some of the realities of life is important too. I think this book did a nice job of that. It was light, but got some great messages across.

The illustrations are very colorful, very detailed watercolors. Lovely pictures. There is a brief lesson at the back of the book about princesses - real and legend. The reader is encouraged to learn more. Verrry interesting. I plan on looking up some of these stories.

This book says it is appropriate for K-2 (5-8), but I think you could stretch it a bit further in either direction, especially if you are looking for a positive story about accepting who we are. Have you read this? If you haven't,check it out at your local library. If you have, let me know what you think about it, or if you have a favorite "positive message" book!

Linking to:
Kid Konnection hosted by Booking Mama.
Book Talk Tuesday hosted by The Lemme Library.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Storytime (vlog): I Will Surprise My Friend! by Mo Willems

My, oh,  my! Since Leslie raved about Mo Willem's Elephant and Piggie books here, Talon and I haven't been able to get enough. We've read  all in the series multiple times. And Leslie was right, these books never get old.  

I Will Surprise my Friend!
is the first one we spotted at the library. We read it right then and there-- and giggled and laughed out loud. Yes, it is that funny. 

Here is Talon's Storytime vlog review:

As you saw briefly in the video, Elephant, Piggie and their friends speak and think in word bubbles.  And much of the meaning is conveyed through these cute little animals' facial expressions and body language-- and that adds to the funny. 

(Light bulb moment! Just realized these books would be a fun teaching tool for my students who have difficulty interpreting social language cues!)

 In this book, Elephant and Piggie decide to surprise each other by the big rock... they wait and wait on opposite sides of the rock and, of course, Elephant's imagination runs away with him...

He imagines scenario after scenario of horrible things that might have happened to Piggie.  The ever practical Piggie thinks Elephant must have went to lunch.

Then they nearly give each other a heart attack! Talon loves the next page when they both fall over on their backs. 

Such a cute book.  Aren't the word bubbles fun?! And the facial expressions are priceless.

That Mo Willems is a genius!

Talon and I join Leslie and her kiddos in highly recommending the entire Elephant and Piggie series. And the Pigeon series too... hysterical! 

If you are fans of Elephant and Piggie, which is your favorite book in the series?

If you haven't met Elephant and Piggie yet, go to the library immediately... read one ... don't laugh too loud and get shushed...then come back and report.

Linking to: Book Talk Tuesday at The Lemme Library

Kid Konnection at Booking Mama

Monday, January 23, 2012

Bargain Book Bonanza (30): Wildwood Dancing

Welcome to Bargain Book Bonanza!

Lesa is hosting this week!

Greetings, book buddies! BBB is back in 2012-- hopefully on a weekly or bi-monthly schedule. But possibly less if life gets too busy. That is the great thing about being a blogger: one can make up the rules then change them or break them.

Now on to my BBB book...

I can't wait to show off this beautiful book that I found for one dollar at a Texas Hastings (a chain that sells new and used books, movies, music and video games) during my Thanksgiving week of seriously bizarre bad juju. Finding this book was very good juju and a turning point in the juju department.  

Isn't the cover breathtaking?  There are so many minuscule delights hidden in the cover art that I discover something new every time I look at it.  

 But I didn't buy it just for the cover. 

The title influenced me too. It was just too evocative for a girl with the soul of dryad. You know how I love trees and forests.  

Then the synopsis clinched the deal. One of the shortest and simplest that I've ever seen but irresistible. 

Five adventurous sisters...
Four dark creatures...
Three magical gifts...
Two forbidden lovers...
One enchanted frog...

Cross the threshold into the Wildwood, and enter a land of magic, daring, betrayal, and true love.

That is it and all it took. 

Wildwood Dancing was lost amid all my bargain books but I found it this past weekend and I can't wait to read it. In fact, I'm going to start it even though I'm absorbed in a reread of Great Gatsby. I'm suddenly in a fairytale mood.  Fairytale moods are like that...

Have you read this book or any others by this author?


BBB is a book haul linky party for bargain loving bookworms!

Bargain Book Bonanza

Want to join the party? Just visit the Bargain Book Bonanza page for the particulars.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Win an IPAD2 and Kindle Fire!! Rafflecopter Launch Party Giveaway!

The  super cool and very generous guys at Rafflecopter are celebrating the launch of the new version of Rafflcopter with an awesome giveaway!

Enter to win an IPAD2!

 And whoever refers the winner will win a Kindle Fire!

Suggest a name for the Rafflecopter mascot. If your suggestion is chosen, win a Kindle Fire!!

Wow! What an exciting giveaway! 

This giveaway is open to US and Canadian residents only. It ends February 9.

For your convenience, enter to win right here at Baja Greenawalt's Cozy Book Nook. And don't forget to say 'Lesa' referred you.  I already have a Kindle Fire so will giveaway any that I win. 

Have fun and good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, January 13, 2012

On Fire with Lesa in 2012! Dance Party!

 (I have a deep dark bookish secret. Can you guess what it is from the conspicuous clues? And grooving is mandatory-- no matter where you are)

Happy second week of this beautiful new year! Is your year off to a blazing good start?

Great balls of fire! Mine certainly is.

Great Balls by Jerry Lee Lewis on Grooveshark

I've been in a searing frenzy of productivity around the old homestead.  Start rearranging furniture at midnight? Hot damn, I'm just heating up at midnight.

Hot Hot Hot by Buster Poindexter and His Banshees of Blue on Grooveshark

And in the blogging department? Well, lately, I've been neglecting poor Baja in favor of my everything else blog, Dusty Us Diaries

BUT as the embers of 2011 burn to ash, the sparks of 2012 have ignited an inferno of exciting book bloggy ideas.  So stay tuned! 

And my reading? Off to a sizzling start with Summer by Edith Wharton. It is a scorcher! (teehee)

Using all the these fiery words tickles me. Hope you are amused too and not ready to toss me onto a pyre.  Okay, moving along, just in case. 

Have you guessed my secret yet? Are you burning to know? (teehee again)

Aw, you're so flaming brilliant, I bet you already figured it out. 

Alright, I never in a million years (or at least 5 years) expected to say this but here goes.... the big reveal... 

I received a Kindle Fire for Christmas! 

I  am actually the bemused proud owner of an e-reader. And a super cool high tech e-reader at that. Me. The girl with no ipod. The girl with a dumb phone.  (I did just upgrade to a smarter phone with a slide out keyboard and touch screen but kept it deliberately dumb-- no texting/interneting for me!)

And now I am with Kindle Fire.

Dang, I don't know nothin' 'bout reading on e-readers!

Ha, looks like I don't know whether to smile or grimace. Just momentary cognitive dissonance though. 

My mind was a whirl of: Uh buh.. no e-reader is my trademark. OMG! A KINDLE FIRE! Uh buh.. I prefer real books. OMG! A KINDLE FIRE! Uh buh... I want to be the last holdout. OMG! A KINDLE FIRE! I CAN GET ALL THE DICKENS' NOVELS FOR FREE!  (And that is no lie. Dickens popped into my mind before all others. my bargain book hunting has been thwarted by Dickens all year)

So yeah, I'm fired up about my new book toy!

Fire by Ohio Players on Grooveshark

Now, if I could only try it out.  That is right, I haven't even tried it out yet (but I have watched Amazon's cool tutorials)

Why?  There is no wi-fi at my house.  

Why?   My bone idle but charming and bookish (redeeming qualities) Hub bought a wireless router two years ago and has yet to set it up. 

Hahahahahahahahahhahahah! This kills me! It is just so typical of our sitcom-esque life. 

Is your life like a sitcom too? 

Ours is a wonderfully maddening amalgamation of The Honeymooners, I Love Lucy, Andy Griffith Show, Beverly Hillbillies, Gilligan's Island and Fawlty Towers. Really. 

So I'm giving Hub until February to hook up the wi-fi so I can set up my Kindle Fire in the comfort of my own home. If there is still no wi-fi on February 1, I'll go use the library's wi-fi. 

How much you wanna bet that I will be at the library on February 1?

Until then, I will just stand next to my Kindle Fire...

Fire by The Jimi Hendrix Experience on Grooveshark

Where do you stand regarding e-readers? If you have one, which one do you have? How often do you use it?

Thursday Favorite Things
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